Interview by Jenkin Au and Alan Ng
Words by Cornelius Suen and Alan Ng
Photography by Jenkin Au
Location: Toronto[Show Text Only Version][Hide Text Only Version]
Lancelot Jordan Walker Roberts strives to be the best at what he does and has made significant headway into achieving this goal. An MC and DJ going by the moniker Sir Lancelot, he has had a wealth of experience as an MC and cites some of his favourite MCing experiences as hosting the Google after party for Barrack Obama’s inauguration and opening for Birdman and Methodman. A consummate professional, Sir Lancelot has branched outside of the club scene in his quest to be the best MC around and has worked corporate events and hosted festivals.
The justalilhype! Crew spoke to the man himself and learned about the mentality that Sir Lancelot brings to every job: to engage and entertain the crowd. We also heard his thoughts on the future of the MC, the evolving role of the MC, and his fruitful working relationship with DJ Wristpect, among other things. Sir Lancelot could care less about his competition or who is riding on his coattails. All he cares about is focusing on his work, improving his craft, and becoming immortalized in the club scene as a MC at the pinnacle of his game.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I go by the name Sir Lancelot and since we were talking about it before, I am the 2011 Canadian Club MC of the Year.
How did you start MCing?
It was by chance, I was in the right place at the right time and it just happened. I started going to clubs when I was seventeen. I was a promoter then, handing out flyers, getting paid and paying other people to do that for me. A dude by the name of DJ Bars, who is now known as Jason Chambers, was playing at this spot one night when something happened to his equipment and he had to stop the music. He hands me the mic and asks me to say something. I started talking, he finally put the music back on, and then he asked me, “You ever do this before?” I answered no and he said that I did a pretty good job. That’s basically how I got started. He said that if there was ever a night that his MC wasn’t available, I could feel free to jump on the mic. I loved that idea. That was about 10 to 12 years ago. I was so excited that day and I told my older brother. His friend was a DJ who got a residency at a spot called The Rouge and he asked my brother to MC for him. My brother is a cool dude but he hates people and he declined and referred me. He connected me with his boy and I started MCing for him. Everything picked up from there.
How did you get your MC name?
My full name is actually Lancelot Jordan Walker Roberts. My brother suggested the name Sir Lancelot to me. I liked it. I won’t just pick something or choose to do something just for the sake of it. There has to have a greater meaning. Sir Lancelot was an Arthurian knight who was at the top of his game and did a lot for the realm. He was an icon within medieval legend aside from committing adultery and any other negative stuff that he did. I am inspired by this and I also seek to be the best at what I do.
Tell us a little more about the role of a club MC.
The role of the MC is to make the party better by adding the master of ceremonies to the element of music and by doing this without taking too much or adding too much to the music. If I have the crowd engaged and they are responsive to what I do, I have done my job. Generally, as an MC, if you can entertain the crowd and show them a good time, you have done your job. However, stepping outside of the club, you may need to switch your style. We do a lot of corporate jobs and it’s different from a club. You have to get the crowd hyped and excited but you have to do it a lot more professionally and tastefully, not that we are acting unprofessionally when we are in a club. It’s just much different working with suits and corporate people. Every event that you do is going to be different in terms of hosting a show, doing a club, doing corporate, or hosting a festival, but entertaining and engaging the crowd is your job and if you have accomplished that you have accomplished your job.
What are your favourite moments as a MC?
That would be hosting Barrack Obama’s after party for his inauguration for Google in Washington D.C. It was so big on so many levels: throwing a party for the President, for Google, and in Washington D.C. of all places. Just being in the city during that time was crazy enough, but being a Canadian and hosting an American President’s after party just made it all the more exciting. RMJ Festival in Finland is another favourite memory of mine because that was when I started hosting. There were 91,000 people there over a weekend with three days of daylight. It was interesting not experiencing the sense of time that you are normally accustomed to and being treated as well as we did by the people who took us out there. It was a different story when it came to the locals because Finland is a very rock oriented country and there is still a lot of racism. Still, while there were tense situations, all that melted away once we started working. Another favourite memory of mine would be when I opened for Birdman and Method Man. I have been a huge fan of Method Man since childhood, so to open for someone I look up to and from where some of my inspiration comes from was gratifying.
What is the competition like for MCs, both locally and internationally?
Competition is good. The industry has changed a lot now. It’s very different from before. Before, talent and what you could do mattered, like how good you were at engaging the crowd. I have great competition in Toronto because we are such a major city in Canada. It is easy to get shine because we are such a major city but it is also difficult to get shine because there are so many people doing the same thing here. The competition is good but I don’t see competition to tell you the truth. If I can’t be the best at what I do I am not going to do it. The competition is there but I learn not to pay attention to it. When you start worrying about who is on your coattails and what not, it takes away from your ability to focus on what you are doing.
The context of being an MC has evolved throughout the years. Looking back, MCs were just on the mic and doing shout outs. Today, you will see DJs jumping onto the mic and vice versa. What defines the modern MC?
Honestly, if you ask me where MCing is going, I think it is going away. The art has changed so much that certain places will automatically say they don’t want an MC. They associate an MC with the urban element, or trouble, or getting people way too HYPE, or some guy that is just going to scream and be annoying. We have encountered this. We will go places, book stuff, and then they will say that they don’t want an MC anymore. If it comes to this, we try to gain these peoples’ trust. I try to use my corporate background to show them that I am not just some guy who will scream and jump around. I am here to increase bar sales and engage the crowd and make it a better party. I will also say, “I have done this for this major company. Do you think they would have hired me if they thought I was going to be annoying?” Personally, the art is dying but that is not to take anything away from people who are doing it right now and taking the time to learn the ins and outs of the business. It is more dying than it is flourishing though. More people are crossing over. The job of an MC is not as prominent as before. You used to go to specific places or venues that catered to specific musical tastes to hear an MC. Now, you can hear an MC before a house music party. We have even done a country night. I hosted it and I don’t know anything about country music.
Have you ever run out of content?
I talk a lot of smack. I have never really run out of content. If I don’t have something to say I will try to engage the crowd and encourage them to get a drink. Owners, promoters, and everyone down the chain of command like that. If people drink, other people are getting paid. 80 percent of the people there are there to get drunk. You are constantly reminding people to do the little things and to stimulate a good environment.
You have been partnering with DJ Wristpect a lot throughout the years. How did you started this working relationship?
I knew him for a while before we started working together. He lived five minutes away from me and he went to high school with one of my best friends. When I started my promotion company, which was called Unlimited Entertainment, Wristpect started DJing. We both went into our own markets. My best friend, Street Car, who is still one of my best friends to this day, would go to him and tell him to check me out. He would then come to me and tell me to check out Wristpect. I was like, “Here we go, another DJ.” We never connected and I started working with Junior Flow, who is just a badass DJ and who is one person Wristpect looks up to as a DJ. When he saw me doing my thing he was like, “Maybe this guy is doing something!” He hit me up late one night at four in the morning. He was like, “What are you doing up” and I am like, “Working on some edits.” This was back when Serrano was banging hard. I was doing personal edits for Junior Flow and Wristpect wanted me to make something for him. It was the most abstract edit I had ever done. It was like an intro into the hook and then into the verse and then back into the hook, something that someone has never asked me for before. I banged it out and he liked it and we have been working together since.
What do you think is the secret to your chemistry with DJ Wristpect?
I honestly couldn’t tell you. We have many similarities but a few differences as well. We both know a lot about music. Our music knowledge is pretty crazy. Both of us are into all genres. If one of us knows less than the other, the other will let it slide. We just feed off of each other and share information. We vibe as people. We just go with the flow wherever we are.
What’s down the line for your?
I’ve been slacking. I am Djing more now. I have a few mixtapes that are going to get done. They have been mapped out and they just need to get put together. You may see me on a couple of records soon. I have been really hesitant to put out music because I do not regard myself as an artist and I am a huge critic of the musical arts. I never ever wanted to be considered a rapper. I look at the people who I listen to like Jay, Kanye, Dr. Dre, or Big Sean, amazing artists who put together crazy metaphors and amazing multilayered songs and I know I am not at their level so I do not want to call myself an artist. But you might see me on some records in the future. I am a jack of all trades after all. My slogan is “So much more than just an MC.”
What is HYPE?
HYPE ranges from person to person. HYPE is individuality. What I like may not be what you like and vice versa. HYPE is anything that pleases you. HYPE is anything that takes it over the top for you. When you hear a beat and you have to rewind it and listen to it again, that’s HYPE. When you see a shirt and you just can’t leave the store without it, that’s HYPE. If you play a sport and you get off the court feeling like you just played a great game, that’s HYPE as well.